Scam calls are only getting more frequent — and very quickly. By this time next year, nearly half of all calls to mobile phones are going to be fraudulent, according to a new report from telecommunications firm First Orion. The company has analyzed data from more than 50 billion calls over a period of 18 months to get a quick picture of what they are calling the scam-call “epidemic.” Here is what they have found:
- Mobile phone scam calls are on the increase: In the year 2017, only 3.7 percent of calls to cell phones were of a fraudulent nature. This year, that number has reached 29.2 percent — and it’s actually expected to climb to 44.6 percent in 2019.
- Fraudulent landline calls are on the decline: On the other hand, Scam calls originating from landlines are decreasing. In 2019, it is projected that only 24.8 percent of scam calls will come from landlines, which is a decrease from 56 percent in 2017. This is in part due to fewer people using a landline in the first place, but it’s also a sign of just how technologically sophisticated, and successful, that mobile scammers have become.
- Beware of the area code: “Neighborhood Spoofing” is a tactic in which fraudsters will show up as a local phone number on your
caller ID by matching up to the first six digits of your number. The report estimates that 9 in 10 scam calls will actually come from a familiar area code in the next year.
The increasing volume of scam calls means that it is more difficult to determine which calls are legitimate — whether originating on either a mobile or landline.
“Most people just don’t answer their phones anymore,” says Gavin Macomber, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Business Development for First Orion.
According to Mr. Macomber, a minimum of 84 percent of unknown mobile calls (and an even higher percentage of landline calls) will go unanswered these days. This can be a real challenge for legitimate businesses who are trying to reach their customers.
And for consumers who are unlucky enough get caught up in a scam, the financial repercussions can be very serious. The FTC is reporting that the median loss from a phone-based scam in 2017 was $720.
Fortunately, there are many ways to for people to stay protected. For smartphone users, apps such as RoboKiller and Truecaller, are able to help detect and block unwanted calls. But, keep in mind that these apps will only block calls from known scam numbers, not “spoofed” calls that will temporarily hijack legitimate digits.
Some mobile phone carriers, such as T-Mobile, have started to offer screening services that will alert consumers if an incoming call is likely to be fraudulent. And other carriers are likely to follow suit. In the meantime, familiarize yourself with common scams, like calls from people who are claiming to work for the IRS, your credit card company, or your bank.
Macomber says that he is hoping that we’ll soon be living in a world in which consumers will be able to answer their phones again. Until then, we will just continue to hang up.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post on the Growing Epidemic of Scam Calls. As stated, the problem is on the rise and not expected to go away soon. Please feel free to leave your Comments or Questions below and I will promptly respond to them. If you know of a Scam that I have not written a post on, please leave the information below and I will be glad to investigate. Take care and have a great day.